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Boston Pride sign defender Toni Ann Miano

“Toni from the Bronx” starts pro career in Boston

Michelle Jay

Today, the Boston Pride signed Boston College Eagles defender Toni Ann Miano. She was selected by the the Riveters in the 2017 draft, but will remain in Massachusetts for her rookie season.

In four seasons at BC, Miano tallied 101 points (36g, 65a) in 133 appearances. She was unanimously named the 2018 Hockey East’s Best Defenseman and cracked the 2018 Patty Kazmaier Top 10 list.

“Boston is a great organization, they won the first Isobel Cup, they have great players that went through the program,” Miano told The Ice Garden in a phone interview. “Paul Mara’s obviously a very experienced coach, so I’m excited to play for such a great organization.”

Miano will join two BC alumna who recently signed with the Pride. “Emily Field is one of my favorite forwards I’ve been on the ice with throughout my four years at BC,” said Miano. She added, “When I heard Katie [Burt] signed I was pumped ... she’s an unbelievable goalie; one of the best I’ve played in front of.”

Miano considers herself an offensive defender, something the Pride lacked in any great number last season. Her hope is to learn and grow from her teammates old and new, and quite frankly, to win.

Toni from the Bronx

If you made it to a BC game during Miano’s senior season, you might have seen yellow “Toni from the Bronx” shirts around the rink. Her mother, sister, and father were know to wear them to her games. “The first time I saw those was my senior game at BC. I had no idea because I have the worse second-hand embarrassment,” she shared through laughs. “That just shows the pride of where I came from a bit.”

For a time, it was thought Miano might return to New York with the Riveters.“I was drafted [in the 2017 draft] to the New York Riveters and obviously being from New York, I was really excited about that.”

So, why sign with the Pride?

Miano is staying in Massachusets to complete her education, “I will graduate in December ... so it just was the most realistic to play for Boston since I will be living out there.”

The 2018 second team all-American may not play to hometown crowds this NWHL season, but she is no stranger to Boston. In February, she secured a third consecutive Beanpot title for the Eagles with an overtime goal against rivals Boston University. “I’m excited to pick up where I left off after BC and to play another year in Boston.”

Evolution of the league

Being at BC, Miano had a front row seat to the growth of both the NWHL. Now, she is eager to do her part in growing a successful Boston franchise, as well as a successful women’s pro league. “When the league first started–obviously I was in college–we didn’t know where the league was going to go.”

However, knowing the league existed created a level of excitement for Miano and others. She saw hope for a future in professional hockey after college. Coming from the Bronx, there was not much hockey, let along girls hockey for incoming NWHL rookie to participate in. “I was the only girl on any team I played on ... I played boys hockey until I was about 15.”

Even to play boys hockey growing up, Miano had to travel to neighboring New Jersey. As her interest in hockey grew, Miano decided to move away from home and attend the North American Hockey Academy (NAHA) in Vermont. “I decided in order for me to fulfill my dreams of playing college hockey, I needed to go away.”

The Tri-State area is still not a hockey hotbed, but opportunities continue to grow. For Miano, going from a time when opportunities in the sport were sparse to signing a pro contract is surreal. “Getting paid to be a professional and play the game we love is not a bad deal!”

Growing the Game

In addition to her own playing career, Miano hopes to build a career path, “I want to coach. I want to coach college hockey and maybe beyond one day.” Last May, Miano started Eagles Elite Sports. She is already getting her feet wet with fellow Eagle Kenzie Kent. The duo will hold two-sport camps for players ages 8-16 in Hingham, MA this summer.

In addition to Kent — who will serve as the director of the lacrosse instruction — Miano has recruited gold medalist Megan Keller and NWHL forward (most recently with the Boston Pride) Dana Trivigno.

Her mission is clear: to influence the next generation of female athletes in reaching their goals. “I just wanted to give back to the next generation of girls and influence them to keep playing and push them to fill our shoes.”

In my first-ever chat with Miano, I found her to be impressively driven. Just a week ago, some might have been concerned about the lack of signing to the Boston Pride. However, with Miano now joining the likes of veterans Alyssa Gagliardi, Emily Field, and rookie Katie Burt on the ice, the Boston Pride have a solid foundation to work with heading into season four.